Remember those infamous grilled cheese sandwiches as a teenager you used to make or pulling up to the local drive through to order your favourite burger? Now, you’re considering going plant-based but don’t have a clue where to start. Plant-based options are much more readily available in the frozen section of your grocery store and many more fast food chains are now offering ‘vegan’ options to people’s favourite comfort foods. These may be ‘temporary’ substitutes for some of your favourite foods, however, they are not healthy options.
If your end goal is to eat more healthy foods, increase your energy level, lose weight and keep it off, prevent and even reverse disease, then plant-based eating is the way to go. The journey to going plant-based doesn’t happen overnight. I find for most people, it’s a process and it needs to evolve one step at a time, one plant at a time. Here are some tips to get you started.
First thing is first…..
Determine your Why?
Did you ever read Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start With Why?’ If not, I would highly recommend it. I use his book as a basis for everything I do in my life. Ask yourself the question ‘why do you want to go plant-based in the first place?’ Is it for your health? Is it to inspire others to get healthy? Is it for compassion? Is it for the planet or a combination of any of these? Knowing your why and the reasoning behind your choice is important as this will be your purpose and the main reason you keep coming back when you get stuck or feel like giving up. Always return to the WHY!
I coach a lot of people on how to go plant-based and believe it or not, this is the most important step. If you can’t figure this out, you won’t stick with it. The answer doesn’t have to be any of the above but rather something that resonates with you and gives you a purpose.
My plant-based journey didn’t happen over night. In fact, it started with health problems. Eliminating animal products and processed foods actually saved me from major surgery and relived me from chronic IBS that no pill could ever do. Health reasons were not the only reason I decided to go plant-based. I’m also plant-based for the planet and compassion. During my journey, I felt very alone. Although my husband joined me on this crazy, incredible journey, I didn’t know what to cook, I didn’t know about the many readily resources available on the internet, and I had no clue as to what foods to buy. What I did know is that I could never go back to eating the way I did; for my health, for the planet, and for the animals.
I can now tell you that there are so many resources available now for people to get inspired. Resources on how and what to start cooking, what foods to buy, and to listen to stories that are very similar to your own. I could provide you with a huge list of resources that I came across, but this blog post would never end so I will list a few people and web sites that gave me hope to continue my journey.
Watching these documentaries saved me from major health issues. I feel forever indebted to them, the doctors, and the scientists behind the research who are truly making the world a better place and give hope to those who have given up on themselves and their health issues.
Let Food Be Thy Medicine…..
Discover the Flexibility of Fruits & Vegetables
Did you know that you can make chocolate pudding with avocado? Did you know that you use cashews as a cream sauce in your pasta? I didn’t know this until I did some research. Skip the bacon carbonara and try a whole wheat pasta with a smoky avocado sauce. It not only tastes better but you feel better after eating it. In fact, you feel great all the time when you eat plants. You’ll feel so good that you will never want to return your old bad eating habits.
There are more than bananas and apples when it comes to fruit. Want to skip the carrots and broccoli for dinner, no problem. Fruits and vegetables don’t have to be boring. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There are so many flavours to be discovered and in fact I eat more of a variety of fruits and vegetables than I ever did before. You can put zucchini into plant-based chocolate muffins and not even taste it. You can turn mango into a creamy salad dressing and save tons of calories by not using oil. You can use bananas and apple sauce as a replacer for eggs when baking. Get creative with your food.
Shift the Focus on Your Plate
The mindset change when going plant-based is placing the food on your plate differently. When you’ve eaten a particular way for most of your life, it can be very challenging to change it. So how do you change it? I tell people to minimize the importance of meat, fish, and poultry on their plates by re-arranging the food on your plate differently. Instead of making the meat or poultry the main attraction on your plate, make it the side dish. Replace it with vegetables, grains, and legumes. When you start to see your food this way, you see it as not being that important and a shift in the way you think starts to happen. Gradually decrease the portion sizes of your meat, poultry, or fish and increase your plant portion sizes. Before you know it, the meat is off your plate completely.
Choose Simple Over Elaborate
If meal prep or spending hours in the kitchen isn’t your thing, it’s okay. You can still eat plant-based without spending hours in the kitchen or avoid eating processed plant foods. The key is to choose simple ingredients and a few at that. I provide some of my clients with recipes that only contain a few ingredients and still taste great. Don’t get overwhelmed that you have to buy all new ingredients to create some elaborate meal made from plants. In fact, most of the foods you have in your fridge can create a healthy plant-based meal in minutes. Here are a few ideas:
- Nut butter with banana and whole wheat bread (replace the refined bread with wheat options or a gluten-free bread)
- Mixed greens with quinoa, chick peas, and mixed vegetables for a salad option
- Stir fry with vegetables, cashews, dried cranberries, and a bean pasta for dinner
- Pita with hummus, avocado, sliced tomato and cucumber for lunch or a snack
This is just a very small sample of what you can create in your kitchen within a couple of minutes with very simple ingredients. Save the elaborate meals for the holidays and special occasions.
Establish a Support System
After figuring out your ‘Why’ to go plant-based, this is the next most important step. Changing the way you eat after decades can be so challenging especially if you don’t have support from your family or friends. Support can be found online in different social media channels, meetup groups, plant-based associations, and other like-minded herbivores. In fact, this is the largest group forming in the food world, plant eaters. So, you are not alone. We are EVERYWHERE! Having support will encourage you, help you find recipes, and keep you inspired to continue your journey of living a long, healthy life.
Eat Well – Move Well – Live Well
Your Compassionate Coach,